Tuesday, February 28, 2012

29 gifts: day fourteen

Day fourteen's gift was a flower for the checker at the grocery store.  I had one of those end of a long day run through the grocery store late one evening.  I was thinking of a friend at work who could have used some flowers and decided to buy a few to make a small bouquet for her.

At the check out, the cashier was super friendly and commented on the sunflowers.  She said she had used sunflowers and wildflowers in her wedding and that they photographed beautifully.  We bonded over our love of sunflowers.

I was headed out the door and thought that she might enjoy one of the three sunflowers in the bundle.  I turned my cart around and presented her with a sunflower.

Sunflowers make just about everything better, including long days at work, weddings, and grocery shopping!

Friday, February 17, 2012

Random Acts of Kindness Day

"Carry out a random act of kindness, with no expectation of reward, safe in the knowledge that one day someone might do the same for you."  - Princess Diana

A friend sent this quote to me through Facebook following my post about Generosity Day.  I loved that my friend thought of me and passed along this sentiment.

February is full of prompts for us to love one another!  Today is Random Acts of Kindness Day and I am thinking of ways to participate.

As a follow up to Generosity Day/Valentine's Day on Tuesday, one of my best moments was bringing candy to the high school class where I was a guest lecturer.  Candy.  Teenagers.  Not rocket science...they were really happy.

My husband and I have been having a string of what we would call bad luck. He posted this graphic on my Facebook page with a note that we needed some luck.

I keep thinking that our giving should be pushing good karma our way.  Not so much this Monday.  We had a very frustrating day with some expensive repairs to some property in our near future.

Our mantra is that "it is all going to work out."  We often don't know how or when, but we just keep that faith that it will indeed work out.

Monday was tough.  And since Tuesday was Valentine's Day, I was trying to think creatively about some small things that might brighten his day.

I brought him an iced tea from Starbucks.  Usually a huge hit, but they were out of black tea because the overflow of Valentine's flowers from the floral department was blocking their inventory in the back.  I got green tea instead and it wasn't his favorite.  Bummer.

A side note:  I would go back to this Starbucks again on Valentine's Day because while you wait for your drink, you can watch all of the men shopping for their sweethearts.  It was after 6 p.m. and some looked confused, some worried, and some clueless.  A good random act of kindness might have been someone just walking around helping them make decisions or complimenting their choices to give them some confidence.  It was quite the site!

For gift number two, I bought him $12 worth of scratch lottery tickets and put a note with them that said, "We make our own luck!"  We had a few winners in the pile and had some fun scratching the tickets.

Now, off to practice some kindness.

Monday, February 13, 2012

Valentine's Day reworked

If you have been following my posts, you know that I have been experimenting with giving.  My post-holiday giving slump has led me to this stage of rethinking how and when we gift.  We are really asking the question, "does our giving matter?"

I am not sure that we have found any answers, but we have had a lot of fun finding new ways to give and new causes to support.

Today, I was inspired by Brene' Brown's post about Generosity Day.  She educated me on the work of Sasha Dichter's Generosity Experiment turned Generosity Day where Valentine's Day is reworked.  Think of it this way:  instead of placing your giving all on one sweetheart, open your heart to as many people as you possibly can during one day.  Say yes to everyone who needs help.

Watch this great video for inspiration.

Image courtesy of http://pamgarrison.typepad.com/

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Cabin fever, ready to garden

 While we have had a really mild winter in Kansas this year, it still has been winter.  Dormant plants, brown landscape, fallow garden beds, too much time inside, and too many layers of clothes all add up to cabin fever.  I am ready for warmer weather and garden season!

One thing that helps get me through the cold weather and short days is scanning garden catalogs.  One of my new favorites is Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds.  Their catalog has great pictures and descriptions and I love learning about heritage varieties of plants.

I did order a few packets of seeds to try.  When they arrived, I fell in love with the package design, especially the illustrations.

Check out these works of art!  Can't wait to see how they grow.

Saturday, February 11, 2012

Grown up field trip

I work on a beautiful college campus and have a really strong affinity for my place of work.  I am so fortunate to work for my alma mater which is twice the treat.  All of that said, I think there is something special about every college campus.

Some colleagues and I recently traveled to Indiana University in Bloomington for a site visit.  We were familiar with some of their programs, and while their campus culture and make up is different than our own, we could learn from them.
Side note:  I forgot my camera!  These pictures are from my phone and all things considered, the quality is not terrible.

The IU campus is gorgeous!  The first thing that you notice is all of the towering, established trees.  You feel like you are walking in a magical forest with these beautiful stone buildings nestled in around the sidewalks.

This little structure was one of my favorite stops on the tour.  Our guide told us that the legend is that a female student became a true "co-ed" when she kissed her sweetheart at this spot at midnight.  She would then have to race back to the residence hall where the dean of women would have to let her in after curfew.  And, everyone would know where she had been.

The weather was beautiful while we were there. Crisp mornings warmed up nicely by afternoon and while we needed a jacket, we were not freezing cold.

Near the student union (which is huge and houses the hotel where we stayed), there is a small chapel.  This is also a magical little place that our tour guide said is very busy during wedding season and finals week.  (I guess students in Indiana count on divine intervention at the end of the semester, too.)

The cemetery of the family who donated the land for the university rests next to the chapel.  It was an unusual sight to see the grave stones and rustic rock wall surrounding them with students trudging by between classes.

We traveled into and out of Indianapolis right before they hosted the Super Bowl. It was really neat to see all of the promotions and hoopla around the big event.  We saw a few famous people and a few who might have been famous because of the entourage, but they must not be performing for my demographic!

Another hike

Last summer, we had a beautiful, mild evening.  The moon was staying low over the hill behind our house and I couldn't resist snapping a few pictures.  You might know that I am a little in love with the view behind our house.  Regardless of season, the hill presents lovely color and a feeling of being protected down in our little valley.

At the bottom of the hill is a small creek that runs along the base and then cuts back west and goes under the county road on the east side of our house.

Our neighbors own this property and have given us an open invitation to walk around and enjoy it.  We might have the best neighbors on earth!  They love the outdoors and are really kind and generous.

My husband and I both had the MLK holiday off and decided that though it was cool and overcast, a walk outside would be our workout for the day.  I was really excited to skip a session on the treadmill.

My husband had recently found a way to cross the creek and climb the hill to check out the view.  He promised that he could get me across the creek and I would not have to walk with wet boots the rest of the way.  His solution was to carry me through the creek!

He also warned me that I would have to climb up a steep hill using tree roots for footing and to pull myself up.  Hmmm..., but the view would be worth it!
He was right.

The view looking further east from the top of the hill made us feel like we were the only people for miles.

The dogs loved the adventure!

This is the view from the hill looking east. Can you find our house?

Friday, February 10, 2012

29 gifts: day thirteen

Today's gift was helping a stranger in need at the airport ticket counter.  A week or so ago, I was traveling for work and was the first in our group of five to arrive at the airport.  It was a cold morning and VERY early.  My husband had agreed to drop me off and in our effort to try to fit in as much as possible, we dropped off his truck for some repairs and switched vehicles on the way.  It was hectic and I was feeling disorganized.

Anyway, back to the helping.  I was people watching in the airport waiting area.  Our little regional airport hosts a great deal of traffic, so the terminal was crowded and people were coming and going preparing for the two outgoing flights that morning.

A young woman was at the ticket counter with two huge bags.  The agent was talking to her and then the woman seemed to get really upset and walk away.  She was on her phone and pacing.  My colleague leaned over and said that the lady didn't have the money to check her two bags.

I watched for a few minutes before grabbing my wallet and offering to pay.  The ticket agent and the woman were both really surprised.  I spent $60 to get the woman out of a jam and still feel like a million bucks for helping. Who hasn't been in a similar situation?  Have you ever gotten to the check out at the grocery store and realized your wallet was in your car?  How about not having any change for the parking meter?

The woman was so thankful.  We hugged and she said thanks.  When we got off the plane, she thanked me again.  What a good way to begin a trip!

I think that might have been the best $60 I have ever spent.